By Daragh Ó Conchúir
There was All-Ireland glory for Galway and Derry yesterday, with the westerners claiming the minor ‘A’ title after a thrilling second half comeback against Kilkenny, while Derry had a comfortable victory over Wexford in the ‘B’ decider.
Nenagh was the venue for the ‘A’ final and conditions were perfect although there was a strong wind into the town end that favoured Kilkenny in the first half.
The Black and Ambers led at the interval by 1-6 to 1-2 but should have been further ahead and ultimately paid the price for not ramming home their advantage in that opening period.
Indeed it was Galway who secured the first goal, when player of the match Rachel Monaghan struck a free that dropped just under the Kilkenny crossbar. That gave them a one-goal advantage but the Noresiders responded with 1-4 on the trot.
Catherine Foley struck for a goal within two minutes of Monaghan’s major, benefiting from the industry of Áine Kinsella and Julie Ann Malone before finding the net. Orla Hanrick added four points from placed balls but crucially, Sarah Keehan denied Malone a goal with a clearance off the line.
Kilkenny stretched their advantage courtesy of another Hanrick free but Galway cut loose thereafter, accumulating 1-6 without reply in ten minutes to stamp their control on proceedings. Monaghan (three), Orlaigh McGrath (two) and Ailish O’Reilly all raised white flags but it was the 43rd minute goal by Monaghan that was the telling score.
O’Reilly sucked in a number of defenders before feeding Monaghan and she made further progress before burying the sliotar to the roof of the net to bag her second goal.
Kilkenny got back to within two points through Sarah Ann Quinlan, Hanrick and Lyvia Fitzpatrick but Monaghan continued to tap over the points to bring her tally to 2-8 and propel Galway to a 2-12 to 1-10 win.
In the B final, Derry played with the elements in the opening period and put the game to bed. They led by ten points at the break on the way to a very comfortable 2-16 to 2-5 success.
The Oak Leafers were very sharp from the outset, even though Jackie Quigley and Aideen Brennan pointed for Wexford inside the opening two minutes.
That was it for them though in the first half as Derry rattled off 1-9 without answer, Bronagh McGillion (two), Aoife Quinn and Rosanna McAleese raising white flags and Maireád McNicholl bagging the goal.
Wexford’s fortunes improved after the resumption with goals from Shona Sinnott and Hayley Cahill. Sinnott’s score reduced the margin to six points and gave the Models some brief hope but McAleese hit back with a goal of her own to remove any doubt.
McGillian was named player of the match and had a huge influence on proceedings for Derry, for whom the midfield pairing of Shona Quinn and McAleese also had a major bearing on proceedings.